Criterion for a New President

March 17, 2011

In about two weeks our Board of Trustees will name Earlham’s next President.

A few months ago, a recently retired member of the Faculty handed me a brief memo he had sent to an earlier Presidential Search Committee.

“Let me suggest one last minute criterion for a new president.  I would prefer a president who agrees with Henry Adams to the effect that a teacher affects eternity and can never tell where his influence stops, rather than one who is forever talking about the “management” of higher education.  I would like a president who sees learning not primarily as the product of elaborate technology, systemic flow charts, and cost-effectiveness, but as an exposure to what Michael Oakeschott and Robert Hutchins both called “the conversation of mankind,” in which all the intellectual disciplines do not just just have a place on the organizational table, but are active participants in a conversation in which all can be heard (and even possibly understood?) by each other.”

Sounds like a prime criterion to me.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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